The ongoing campaign for the Permatang Pasir by-election shows that political parties, especially UMNO, are still embracing and breathing their old habits - inciting communal hatred and manipulating religion.
UMNO, as a leader of BN, was expected to change their way and adopt a truly Malaysian political model to help revive the waning support of its coalition partners. But its political campaign, including the onslaught of its mouthpieces (Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, paid cybertroopers and a Chinese Muslim convert), implies that the party has given up on its partners to help revive the coalition.
BN as a multiracial and truly Malaysian coalition is dead. BN, with a dominant race based party and its hostile racial agenda (now overtly and openly) hopes to recapture the Malay community support by propagating 'Malay Unity' and by instilling a false sense of fear that the Malays are losing their political power because the non-Malays are now rejecting UMNO/BN.
It will be a sad moment for the country if a large segment of the Malay community accepts the argument. UMNO is still taking the community as a herd. The leaders are using the old tactics of misleading the rest and lead them to help protect the party's own political interests.
So far, there is no vital sign showing that the Malay community is reacting positively to the party's propaganda. Nevertheless, the PR coalition should shoulder some blame if the Malay community is spooked by the 'Malay unity' rhetoric. Malaysia needs the Malays to lead the way. Many leaders among the community were the first ones who would leap to defend and protect the country's fragile democracy.
Hence, the PR coalition should learn and learn quickly on how to build the confidence level and capacity of the Malay community to embrace a new people driven and Malaysian centric political model. It is a fact that the Malays were victims of unfair racial blame game and had faced unwarranted cynical remarks about their status and privileges - a fact now disputed by analysts because many Malays have not benefited from the NEP.
Non-Malay leaders in the PR coalition should recognize and play a greater role in forging a strong mutual partnership with their Malay counterparts. DAP Lim Kit Siang had warned that the coalition may be a one-term wonder if disputes are not sorted out quickly. Leaders such as Anwar Ibrahim, Zaid Ibrahim, Khalid Samad, Khalid Ibrahim and other are working relentlessly to make this multiracial coalition work.
Are the DAP leaders making the same kind of sacrifice? Its leaders are still reacting unnecessarily to show that they are protecting some symbolic 'struggles' which are closely related to the rights of Chinese e.g. the demolition of pig abattoir in Kedah, beer ban in Selangor and others. Their reactions, without considering the merit of each case, are bound to be manipulated by their opponents to benefit their own racial game.
DAP must accept the fact that the party does not have a Malaysian face yet and it must work on it. If PKR elected representatives are the weakest link in the PR coalition, the DAP is the easiest target for UMNO's racist game. The party must act swiftly to stop some unscrupulous politicians from using a lethal combination of race and religion to wreak its partnership with PAS.
Some BN leaders have predicted that a doom is near for the PR coalition since the defection of PKR's Lunas assemblyman. A few defections, mainly from tainted bad hats, will not spell a doom for the coalition. In fact, it is a good thing for the PR coalition. But a possible ideological clash between PAS and DAP, manipulated by their enemies, can prove to be destructive to the nascent coalition.
In the event PR does not survive, we must remember not to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of PKR leaders. We have to acknowledge the fact that the coalition, despite its intention to fight racism, is a victim of its own ethno-religious egoism.